The Plight of the Preacher
“For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you” (1 Corinthians 4:9-14).
The words of Paul, in his discourse to the Corinthian church, are profound, explicit, and a must for every preacher to understand. In relationship to the Great Commission, Paul preached the gospel and was responsible for delivering the Word to the Corinthians. The divine Word he delivered resulted in their embrace of Christ and a regenerated life. However, admiration for Paul waned by his converts and several of the saints in Corinth began to despise his good deeds and resoundingly sound preaching. Because of their stance, Paul delved into his doxological premise concerning the reality and vulnerability of preachers and responsible church leaders.
God is always in control and from an earthly perspective preachers are left open and vulnerable — without protection. In Acts 4, it was the support of the people that kept the angry foes from killing Peter and John for preaching the Word. If the people would have remained silent, the men of the Sanhedrin Council would have put them to death out of fear, pride, and jealousy.
In understanding the plight of a preacher Paul began his comparison and contrast in 1 Corinthians 4:9. He informed his Christian converts that the apostles or preachers are made a spectacle, fools, weak, despised and more, so others might feel justified in their carnal opinions and practices. If Jesus was crucified for perfection, truly imperfect preachers will be persecuted and slandered for preaching a perfect gospel.
The most profound point of Paul rests in the fact that he said (preachers), are made as the filth of the world and offscouring (garbage). He said he did not share his words to shame the people, but to provide a warning. He was trying to teach the church how to treat and appreciate the men of God. The shameful element is that the men of God have to speak on their own behalf, and through that process, yet again endure defamation because their stance is misunderstood as self-serving. Love and entreat the men of God throughout the kingdom. “…How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). Remember, you are the clay In the Potter’s Hands. God has paved a way to save and comfort you today!